Halitosis or bad breath has long been a topic of discussion in the field of Periodontology. It is one of the very common complaints with multiple causes. Few of the various causes are oral infection, abscess, periodontal problems, bad oral hygiene, sinus problems, eating certain foods and diabetes etc.
The chemical compound responsible for bad breath is Hydrogen Sulphide (H2S). What is interesting is that recent research has found that H2S has other pathological effects as well. It has been shown to activate the apoptotic process in different tissues such as gingival epithelial cells and fibroblasts. Following exposure to H2S to gingival cells, reactive oxygen species were enhanced and and increase in the levels of Cytochrome C release was noted. Cytochrome c is released by the mitochondria in response to pro-apoptotic stimuli. It activates various Caspase such as 9 which in turn, further activates Caspasce 3 and 7 that can activate the death of the cells.
It has also been found that people suffering from halitosis have increased quantity of Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria involved in gastric ulcers. This bacteria is especially increased in quantity if there is simultaneously existing periodontal disease. Hence halitosis is no longer just simply ‘a complain of had breath’. As clinicians we need to be aware of the potential harmful effects this ‘bad breath’ can have and possible suspicion of peptic ulcer disease.
This article was written for Dental News Pakistan.
Written by Muhammad Wasif Haq (2010)
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